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Reblogged:Our Pandemic's 'Pantheon of the Gaps'

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The title pretty well sums up what I thought about a news story I ran into this morning on the constant frustration doctors are dealing with during this phase of the pandemic.

The title comes from a popular use of the phrase god of the gaps to refer to any jump between some gap in human knowledge about a phenomenon to the conclusion that its cause must be supernatural. But there are a couple of twists: (1) The purported causes are not so much supernatural as they are arbitrary extrapolations of our somewhat magic-like technology; and (2) the knowledge gaps aren't in human knowledge as such, but within what a given individual doesn't know, but could easily find out.

For example:
Image by Tom Radetzki, via Unsplash, license.
Dr. Carl Lambert hears lots of wild misinformation from his patients. Some comes from the Bible interpretations; some originates from the rapper Nicki Minaj.

Some of it is the stuff of internet conspiracy theories, like there's a chip in the vaccine that will take over their DNA. [bold added]
Where to begin with that one? It's just a sci-fi mirror image of the religious idea of demonic possession.

The article is replete with such things, for anyone who hasn't had to listen to very much of this. Among the material is our old friend altruism, fueling the pandemic of conspiracy theories via a deep-seated suspicion of "selfishness:"
Another explanation left him speechless: "The patient couldn't understand why they were given this for free, because humanity in and of itself is not nice and people aren't nice and nobody would give anything away. So there's no such thing as inherent good nature of man. And I had no comeback from that."
While the government shouldn't be paying for vaccinations, we aren't overall in such a terrible political place that the existence of a sinister mass-injection program makes any sense. Having said that, page Peter Schwartz!

Perhaps even more interesting than these samples of misinformation variants from the wild are examples of ways some physicians are fighting back.

For example, I liked this analogical approach:
... A Louisiana doctor has resorted to showing patients a list of ingredients in Twinkies, reminding those who are skeptical about the makeup of vaccines that everyday products have lots of safe additives that no one really understands.


When patients tell Dr. Vincent Shaw that they don't want the COVID-19 vaccine because they don't know what's going into their bodies, he pulls up the ingredient list for a Twinkie.

"Look at the back of the package," Shaw, a family physician in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. "Tell me you can pronounce everything on the back of that package. Because I have a chemistry degree, I still don't know what that is."

He also commonly hears patients tell him they haven't done enough research about the vaccines. Rest assured, he tells them, the vaccine developers have done their homework. [bold added]
I'm still having interesting thoughts after reading this and recommend it to anyone who wants to fight back against the bad thinking (and the manufactured nonsense that comes with it) that are so common today.

-- CAV

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